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Editor’s Notes: Building Relationships

PPG MVP Conferences are great reasons to get out of your shop and learn. Take some time out of your busy schedule to attend one of these and I’m sure it will pay off.

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Jason Stahl has 27 years of experience as an editor, and has been editor of BodyShop Business for the past 15 years. He currently is a gold pin member of the Collision Industry Conference. Jason, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from John Carroll University and started his career in journalism at a weekly newspaper, doing everything from delivering newspapers to selling advertising space to writing articles.

It’s one of the most common questions I get: “How do I get on a DRP?” There are many ways to answer this question, and the question is often fraught with controversy as the anti-DRP set will come out and say, “That’s the wrong question to ask! The better question is, ‘How do I take back control of my business?’”

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But I don’t want to get into that debate. Instead, I want to bring up a classroom session I sat in on at the PPG MVP Conference April 27-28 called, “Stop Marketing and Start Building Relationships.” It was presented by Audrey Nass, business solutions manager at PPG, with insight from Michelle Deery-Thomas, Nationwide Insurance agent.

The gist of it was that skillfully and properly building a relationship with your local insurance agent can pay off greatly if it is indeed insurance work you’re after. Deery-Thomas showed a clever video showing the right way and the wrong way to make in-roads with her. The wrong way showed a collision shop manager entering the front door of her office and then poking his head in her personal office, asking if she had some time to talk. This is tricky, though – with the layout of her building, you encounter her office before even the receptionist’s desk. But the right way, she said, would’ve been to bypass her office and go to the receptionist first, asking if the agent had time to speak. A small thing, yes, but one that could have big implications.

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This reminded me of another tidbit I learned at a previous PPG MVP Conference ­– that it wasn’t the agent who was key to getting insurance work, it was the person at the front desk. “They’re the ones processing many of the claims start to finish, so to me they’re the most important person in that office,” the shop manager who presented at that particular session said.

Getting out of your shop is essential to learning, and these events are great for that. Take some time out of your busy schedule to attend one of these and I’m sure it will pay off.

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